Tag Archives: weird

Daffodil Steaks

Frankie’s makes the best daffodil steaks. I go down there Sundays and get a 16-ouncer.

“That’s murder, you know,” a guy nearby said as I finished my meal, wiping canary-colored juice from my lips.

“Hey, I’m eating here.”

“They have feelings. All flowers do. I hear them cry at night, mourning their lost brothers.”

Wordlessly I got up and paid by retinal scan, winking to add a tip.

As I drove home past fields of towering daffodils, I rolled down my window. Maybe it was the wind, but I thought I heard weeping.

I rolled the window quickly back up.

 


When a Memory Palace Goes Wrong

Have you ever heard of the Memory Palace? It’s a memory trick to help you remember lists of things or whatever. Here is how it works: first you imagine a place you know well and then associate everything on the list with some place in the memory palace. Then you just walk through the house, mentally, and remember everything on the list.

Like this, but with memory. [*]

Like this, but with memory. [*]

I’ve never tried it before, but it sounds promising, so here goes. I don’t have a palace, so I’m going to the house I grew up in, which is in Grand Falls, Newfoundland. I can picture it perfectly.

Here’s a typical grocery list for us:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Swiss cheese
  • Sandwich meat (ham, turkey)
  • Orange juice
  • Paper towels

Now, I have to run through this before I go to the store, so I can make sure I remember everything. Try it with me. Are you ready?

~*~

I walk into the front door and my sock goes squish in a bowl of lukewarm dairy.

“Who left a bowl of milk on the welcome mat?” I shout. And why aren’t I wearing shoes? I don’t add. That’s not the sort of thing you think of when you walk into a memory palace.

My sister Anna walks in from the kitchen. “Oh, I left that for a stray cat I befriended. I named him Caterwaul.”

“Mom’s allergic to cats!” I shout, suddenly irrationally angry. “And you never knew Caterwaul while we were living in Newfoundland.”

Anna rolls her eyes. “Hey, this isn’t my memory palace.”

I have to continue. I’m leaving for the grocery store in twenty minutes and I have to memorize this list. I walk into the hallway and see a dozen eggs lying on the old-fashioned hot water radiator. They’re all different colors and one of them is growing and sprouting legs. I peer at it closer and closer until it suddenly screams in my face and jumps off the radiator, doing a double back flip.

These are great for warming up your coat before going outside on a winter day. And, apparently, for making mutant eggs.

These are great for warming up your coat before going outside on a winter day. And, apparently, for making mutant eggs. [*]

“Aha!” it yells and starts to fling slice after slice of bread at me. A whole loaf, in fact, while screaming unintelligible words.

“What are you saying?” I ask.

“Russian curse words.”

“I don’t want to buy Russian bread!”

The egg rolls its eyes. “Crybaby,” it mutters. It tries to walk away but steps in a piece of Swiss cheese that is lying in the hall. Its foot gets stuck in a hole and it topples over and rolls slowly away. Its eyes glare at me with every rotation.

I walk into the living room. The TV is having a heated shouting match with the armchair. “You’re a turkey!” the TV shouts.

“What a ham!” the armchair counters.

“You’re a turkey!”

“What a ham!”

“Come over here and say that, butterball!” the TV bellows. “I’ll cut you! I’ll slice you thin and serve you with cranberries.”

“I’d like to see you try it. I’ll smoke you in hickory, you fat swinehock!”

What a ham. [*]

What a ham. [*]

I leave them to their argument and walk into the dining room where horror greets me. The table is the site of citric surgery. An orange is lying there, its peel laid open and my older sister Sheila cutting into its flesh with a scalpel.

“No pulp,” she whispers. “No pulp.” Juice covers everything. She looks up suddenly and smiles, then reaches for some paper towel to wipe her hands. “We’re almost out of these.”

“What are you doing?” I practically shout.

She looks at me like I’m crazy. “Nothing.” Then she smiles again. “Want some orange juice?”

~*~

Epilogue: I made it to the store and remembered everything I needed to buy. However, I did accidentally swear at the cashier in Russian and fell down in a fetal position when I got to the juice aisle. My conclusion: the memory palace technique works if you think you are strong enough to handle it.


Wishbelly

Roland went to see Wishbelly when his family finally ran out of money for doctors for his sick father. Not that the doctors were helping, although their increasingly bizarre treatments did provide Hope, which is a key ingredient to Life, as his grandmother said. The week after the money was almost all gone and it was clear that no more doctors would come, Roland saw something like a veil cover his father’s eyes, as if they were already staring up at the inside of a coffin. That night, Roland got a bottle of water and an apple and went outside by himself. This was a huge deal for a six-year-old.

Roland had heard of Wishbelly from other children in his neighborhood. None of them knew what he looked like—he was the kind of legend your brother’s friend swore he knew—but they knew where he lived: in the abandoned factory across the rushing creek and through the phalanx of rusting farm equipment that was a Tetanus Superstore, as Roland’s mother always said.

He opened the front gate and stepped out onto the shoulder of the rural highway, a tiny boy in a huge, monstrously dark world. He knew the way, even in the dark, but the blinding white beams of a car that rushed past gave him enough light to avoid stumbling over the guardrail and falling into the stream.

After the stream, it was a fifteen minute walk up the highway and then down a narrow dirt track next to a fallow meadow. The tall blades of grass bent and waved in the breeze, rustling and whispering to him.

“Roland, Roland,” they murmured. “Such a little boy. What’s he doing out at this hour? Wishbelly will eat him for a midnight snack. Such a little, little boy.”

This almost made Roland stop and go home. He had always thought of Wishbelly as being good and willing to help, but now the idea came into his mind that maybe he was a terrible creature who ate children foolish enough to fall into his snare.

The voices were spreading. The wind had picked it up into the trees and bushes and now all around him, Roland heard the mocking pity. “Poor Roland. So young to die. Such a little boy.”

He was about to turn back when he heard one voice among the others. “Go!” it said. “Go. You can make it, Roland.” It sounded so different from the others that he planted a small boot resolutely in front of him and continued on until the sighing voices of the grass and trees were behind him.

But now there was a greater obstacle in front of him: one made of terror and decaying metal spikes showing black against the thinly-veiled moon. Roland shuffled forward slowly, groping in front of himself. Almost immediately, a corroded spike reached out and tore his jacket, almost scratching him. He wished he had brought a flashlight.

He was almost considering going back for one when he noticed a dot of pale green luminescence off to the left. He went towards it instinctively and noticed another. They were appearing more frequently now, one every foot or so. Roland felt pieces of metal brush past him on both sides, but he kept his eyes on the dots. After a hundred feet or more, the glowing dots spread out in a carpet and in their midst sat a dark figure.

The figure was seated with its head down. Roland took a step further and it spoke, soft and raspy. “Yes?”

“I want to see Wishbelly,” he said, his voice shaking.

The figure laughed, a low, dusty chuckle. “Wishbelly, is it? Why?”

“My father is sick.”

“That’s not what Wishbelly does.”

“Oh.” Roland started to turn around, but stopped. “Why not?”

“He can only do things for the people who come see him. If your father came here, Wishbelly could make him better then.”

“But he’s sick! He can’t come.”

“That’s not Wishbelly’s concern,” the figure said. Roland could not see his face. “But you are here, so what can he do for you? You took the leap of faith to come. You made it past the obstacles.”

“Did you put the obstacles there? Did you make the grass mock me?”

The man shrugged. “There are always naysayers and obstacles in life, especially when you are doing something important.”

“And what about the encouraging voice, and the glowing path?”

“Everyone who truly seeks will find.”

“Are you Wishbelly?” Roland asked.

The figure laughed. “Possibly. But you haven’t answered my question. What do you want? To be smart? Strong? Would you like to always be happy?”

“Can he . . . can you make me able to heal my father? That’s all I want.”

“All you want is to help him?” the figure said. He stood up and Roland saw that it was an old man with a bald head and silvery skin that glowed slightly.

“Would you still want that if none of your own wishes could come true? If you could only help others? I wasn’t the first Wishbelly, you know. There were others before me who passed on the gift. So this is what I will do, Roland, conqueror of fears, asker of audacious requests.”

He touched Roland on the head. “All who seek, find, but they often find much more than they could ever have dreamed of. You are Wishbelly now. You wished to help others and you have that chance now. You can wish nothing on yourself, but I hope that helping others makes you happy.”

“Who are you?” Roland asked.

“Just an old man now,” the man said, smiling. “And in need of some rest.”

“How does it work?” Roland asked. “How can I make my father better?”

“He must want it,” the man said. “He must ask. That is the only way. It may be difficult, but I wish you luck. Now go on home and get some sleep.”

Roland walked back along the luminous path through the Tetanus Superstore and through the sighing grass and trees. The dissuading voices had gone silent. All he heard was the one small voice. “Courage, young Roland. The hardest part is behind you, the longest is ahead. Courage.”

~*~

This story is a strange one and it has taken me a long time to write, for one reason or another. Don’t ask me where the name came from, since I’m not sure. You may be tempted to see allegory in it, but it was not written explicitly as one. Let me know what you see, since I am always curious how my readers take my stories.


Typical First Date

copyright Al Forbes

copyright Al Forbes

Typical First Date

The moon sparkled off the waterfall like the flash of a thousand smiles. It made me nervous, like a crowd was watching me. I pushed the box into the river and watched it bob away. Everything was inside: the bloody knife, the drop sheets, and the towel I used to clean up. Everything but my blood-red embarrassment.

Talk about a disastrous first date.

Her name was Danielle and she was diamond tiara to my baseball cap. I took her to an abandoned farm to show her the stars, driving her Mercedes since she was afraid of getting her dress dirty in my geriatric Honda.

I hadn’t counted on the mutant cows. Who would, right? Slippery buggers they are, twenty feet long with a mouth like an anaconda. The milk’s not bad though, I hear.

We were walking by the barn when a mutant cow—feral, I assume—leaped out and sucked Danielle down like a dandelion. She didn’t even have time to scream.

I got a pitchfork and killed the thing pretty quick, but then it took almost twenty minutes to cut her out, hacking here and there and spraying gore like a low-budget slasher. When I was finally finished, she stood there, covered in gunk and blood and stinking like a garbage man with a soap allergy.

She drove off alone, leaving me to clean up. Damn, I hate first dates; something always goes wrong.

Maybe I’ll call her tomorrow.


Indefinable Allure – Friday Fictioneers

When I first saw this picture, my reaction was, like everyone else, “What is this?” Then I realized it was the perfect photo prompt because it could pretty much be anything. This story is rather meta, so I apologize to those who aren’t familiar with the other Friday Fictioneers writers. To the group, I can only say I wish I could have included everyone but, well, we only have so many words to work with.

copyright Kent Bonham, who really took the picture.

copyright Kent Bonham, who really took the picture.

Indefinable Allure

Rochelle wandered disconsolately along the beach. The Friday Fictioneers movie had hit a snag: few directors were interested in a 100-word script.

Still, casting was going well. She’d convinced Russell and Perry to play the rebellious teenagers and Doug would do well as the shaman. Elephant had agreed to play the murderer—a little too quickly, she thought—but then again, an Elephant can’t refuse the role of a lifetime. Then there was KZ’s character…Rochelle shuddered.

She glimpsed something lying on the sand. It was grotesque, unidentifiable…perfect. The directors could wait. She now had the perfect movie poster.

 


Xerxes’ War (Part 1)

After the disastrous dinner with the Hendersons, Xerxes didn’t see them anymore. Even Obsequious Otter didn’t come by anymore, although Xerxes’ Prescient Pigeon said it saw the otter around sometimes. Penelope, Xerxes’ ex-girlfriend and current laundry room wall, didn’t mention if his trip to the Hendersons’ had affected her relationship with their dining room wall Bumble and he didn’t ask. He just wanted to be left alone.

One morning, Xerxes was eating cereal over the kitchen sink and staring blearily out into the eternal, empty grey, when a huge parrot landed on his windowsill.

“Awwk! Can I borrow a cup of sugar?” it asked.

“I don’t have any sugar,” Xerxes said automatically, wondering if he could kill a parrot with one punch.

“Liar! Liar!” the parrot shrieked. “You have at least four cups left.”

“But I’m going to make a cake today and I need it all.”

“Liar! Liar!” the bird yelled again. “You’ve never made a cake in your life.”

“Let me guess, you’re Polygraph Parrot,” Xerxes said. He had dealt with novelty pets enough to know how things worked.

“My owners call me Polygraph Polly,” it said. Xerxes ended up giving it some sugar, just to make it go away.

It wasn’t just Polly either. Over the next few weeks, other animals appeared at the house, sometimes just to say hello and sometimes to ask for things. There was Gregarious Goat, who always wanted to talk for hours; Haranguing Hamster, who squeaked up at him about the lack of hamster representation in politics; and then there was Malicious Marmoset. Xerxes found the marmoset chasing his ShyPhone 4 around his bedroom. It hissed at him, then stole the book he was reading off his table, tore the cover, and threw it in the toilet.

That night, Xerxes pulled out the house manual and figured out how to lock the doors and windows, something he’d never done before. After an hour, he got them all locked, ending with the kitchen window, which was how Prescient Pigeon usually came and went.

“You don’t have a ceiling,” Mr. Pettyevil, Xerxes’ kitchen wall, whispered.

“What?”

“You don’t have a ceiling,” Mr. Pettyevil repeated, and smirked as only a wall can. Xerxes looked up. Dang, he was right. He had forgotten there was no ceiling. It had cost extra and Xerxes had just assumed he wouldn’t need one in an empty dimension where his house was the only thing in the whole universe. Plus, he liked the idea of his walls appearing to go up and up into infinity.

The next day, Prescient Pigeon arrived with a gun, just as Xerxes decided that one might be necessary. He wasn’t sure what kind he wanted, so he was curious what kind the pigeon had brought.

“It shoots gummy worms,” Prescient Pigeon said proudly.

“What?”

“That’s not all,” the pigeon said quickly. “There’s a selector knob here. Let’s see . . . It also shoots gummy bears, gummy spiders, gummy amoeba, and gummy Ten Commandments. See?” The pigeon aimed the gun at the wall and fired with his foot. There was a bang and Mr. Pettyevil shouted in irritation. Xerxes picked up a tiny, gummy copy of the Ten Commandments. It was perfectly readable, or would have been if Xerxes could speak ancient Hebrew.

“Nice,” he said. “I wish I had a porch, so I could sit out there with this and shout, ‘Get off my lawn!’”

“You’d need a lawn too,” Prescient Pigeon said, “but I’m not carrying that here for you.”

That night, Xerxes woke up in darkness to hear something crawling down his wall. It must be that Malicious Marmoset! he thought. Slowly, he reached over and picked up his gummy gun. He flicked on the lights and there was the marmoset, dumping melted lemon sherbet into his sock drawer. Xerxes fired a burst of gummy amoebas at it and it dropped the bucket and darted to the far wall. Xerxes flicked the selector switch and strafed the fleeing marmoset with gummy worms. It screeched as it was hit and finally fled back up into darkness.

Minimalism

The next day, Xerxes coaxed his ShyPhone 4 out from under the bed and called Conrad, his real estate agent.

“Conrad, this is insane. When I moved here, you promised me total isolation. Now I’ve got marmosets dumping lemon sherbet into my sock drawer in the middle of the night.”

“Just wash them. The washing machine still works, right?” Conrad said.

“Well, it turns out the Cereal Python really loves sherbet,” Xerxes said. “He ate it all. Unfortunately, he ate all my socks too.” At that moment, Prescient Pigeon arrived, gasping and clutching a 12-pack of socks. Xerxes took them with a nod.

There was a knock at the door. “And now there’s a knock at my door!” Xerxes shouted over the phone. “In a dimension where I’m the only person, I should not have people knocking on my door.” He hung up and flung the door open.

There was no one there. Instead, there was a note taped to the door. It said:

How dare you attack our cutsey-wootsey marmoset! You, sir, are no gentleman. This means WAR!

For some reason, this cheered Xerxes up. No one had to be polite or make small talk during a war.

house

(to be continued)


Death Under The Double Sun

I just finished reading Death in the Afternoon, by Ernest Hemingway. This is a homage/parody/science fiction adaptation of that. Incidentally, I was thinking lately what the weirdest post I’ve ever posted was. This might not be it, but it’s probably in the top five.

scorpion

The sport of Blizz-Blang1 is an ancient and venerable one on the planet of Tirk. It may seem confusing to outsiders, even barbaric, but in fact it is relatively simple.

There are five accepted styles of Blizz-Blang, but the most widespread is the Capitol variety. In it, the sport takes place in a ring of titanium that slowly gets smaller as the match progresses. The purpose of the sport is for the killer (whose ceremonial title is “Washerwoman”) to kill a giant scorpion-like creature, called a rrat. The rrat is sitting on a hovering platform and can only move its front claws and its fire-shooting afterburner, which was limited mobility.

The hovering platform is controlled mentally by a large, mutant slug, called a pincush, who, during the game, is simultaneously watching a documentary about reindeer. The subject matter of the documentary can change from style to style, but reindeer are the most common, followed by crop circles, the water cycle, and occasionally, sex.

In order to defeat the rrat, the Washerwoman must avoid getting killed him(or her)self, while convincing the pincush to help him kill the rrat. This is all done mentally, so to make the battle more interesting, the Washerwoman’s brainwaves are broadcast as a 3D hologram over the arena.

The method of attack can vary, depending on many factors. First, the Washerwoman must determine through leading questions, how interested the pincush is in the documentary it’s watching. If it is very interested, he might try to get it to kill the rrat absentmindedly, by running it into a wall, or dumping it into the pool of lava (which is always part of the ring.) If it not that interested in the documentary, the Washerwoman might ask it nicely to give it the laser sword which it has in its possession, so that he can kill the rrat and they can all go home. This mental conversation, which takes place while the Washerwoman is dodging the rrat and its deadly claws and afterburner, is very diverting.

If, for some reason, the pincush has a grudge against the Washerwoman, the Washerwoman has to use reverse psychology, thinking things like, “fine, I didn’t want to kill it anyway. Just get the rrat to rip off one of its own claws so I can use it to kill myself.” If this works, he then uses the claw to kill the rrat itself.

A final popular tactic is used when the pincush is both bored and very uncooperative. The Washerwoman falls on his knees, sobbing and pleading for his life, promising to sell out his friends and country for a little mercy and kissing the dirt near the pincush. When the pincush turns the rrat away in disgust, the Washerwoman jumps on its back (avoiding the afterburner) and pulls out its brainstem.

The pincush itself is never attacked in the arena, although it is often roasted and eaten at the feast that follows the game.

There are countless other traditions and varieties in Blizz-blang, including what the audiences eats in every round, and how much of it they are allowed to throw at the Washerwoman. There are rules about which holidays explosives are permitted on and which varieties allow prayer, and which ones ban it as an unfair advantage. I will not get into them all here, but if you ever visit Tirk, you will see for yourself.

-0-

1The name “Blizz-blang” comes from the traditional cry that the audience shouts when the match is over, which translates roughly as “Finally, the game is over. We can all go home and watch Blizz” (Blizz being the name of a popular reality show involving 64 white mice, know as bli).

 


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